Erik Bergum: Dad-of-4 shoots dead wife and mom, goes to range to PRACTICE, then shoots father and himself
BUFFALO, NEW YORK: In a horrific shooting rampage, a father-of-four killed his wife and his parents before killing himself when his children were away from home at school. The victims, including the suspect, were found dead at three different locations across New York on October 6, Thursday.
Erik Bergum's body was discovered next to his father Mark Bergum's at the outdoor shooting range, Ten X Outdoor Shooting Club at around 11 am in Newstead, northeast of Buffalo. According to Erie County officials, Mark Bergum was shooting at the range when his son joined him.
According to investigators, Mark Bergum wasn't aware that his son had already killed his wife, Mary Beth, and his mother, Nancy Bergum — Mark's wife. “The son actually started shooting at the range, and then after shooting at the range, went ahead and killed his father,” Erie County District Attorney John Flynn said
Mary Beth and Nancy's bodies were later discovered at two different Clarence homes. Investigators believe Bergum shot his wife first and then drove to his mother's house and killed her. Sheriff Garcia found it chilling that Erik Bergum was able to drive to a rural shooting range after killing the women and practice target shooting with his father before killing him and then himself. "Murder-suicides are often crimes of passion," the sheriff said, according to ABC. “For that to be planned out, we’re thinking that morning, and for him to actually shoot at the shooting range with his rifle and have a great grouping from 100 yards lacks that passion and it’s so calculating,” Garcia said.
There was a note found in Erik's car detailing plans for his killing spree. Despite this, no motive for the murders was provided. "We are still trying to figure that out. We are still trying to figure out why someone would kill his wife, mother, and father," said the District Attorney John Flynn, as reported by The Sun. He added, "We don't know how far in advance it was planned. Based upon the note that we found, at a minimum it was potentially planned (Thursday) morning. But whether or not he thought about it for two weeks or a month, that we don't know. We are trying to ascertain a motive. That's your first question here. What's the motive? Why? Why did this happen?"
Criminal history of the suspect
When asked about Erik's criminal history, DA Flynn said the killer had been convicted of insurance fraud in 2011 and sentenced to probation. He added that Erik had a pistol permit from the Erie County Sheriff's Office. Currently, investigators are still trying to determine if the same weapon was used at each crime scene or what kind of weapon or weapons were used.
“It’s a family tragedy,” Sheriff Garcia said at the news conference. “It’s a terrible, terrible event for everyone. Every time I received a call, it was gut-wrenching. ... When the mother was found dead, when the wife was found dead. Thank God the kids were at school.” County Legislator Christopher Greene called the massacre tragic. “It’s something that’s thankfully very rare," he said.
All four of Erik and Mary Beth's children were at school at the time of the quadruple shooting. "I have two victim advocates from my office that are working with the school counselors from the Clarence School District and helping the children out," Flynn said. "Right now the children are staying at a friend's house, but as the sheriff mentioned, without a lot of family in the area here, my concern is what is going to happen to these four children now."
Bergum and his family had lived in the neighborhood for six or seven years, according to neighbors. "I loved them. They were good people,” neighbor Keith Lukowski told The Buffalo News.
“I’m devastated. I cried all day. I cried for those four kids. Nobody saw this coming.” To help the children, a GoFundMe campaign has been launched. As of Friday night, more than half of the $10,000 goal had been reached. Mary Beth Bergum, the children's mother, was originally from Maryland and Sheriff Garcia said her father was on his way to western New York on Friday, Oct 7.